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Lahaina welcomes Fleetwood’s on Front St.

By Staff | Sep 6, 2012

The restaurant holds a torch ceremony at 6 p.m. each night. PHOTO BY NORM BEZANE.

LAHAINA – With the blowing of a conch shell and playing of Scottish bagpipes, Fleetwood’s on Front St. rock drummer Mick Fleetwood last month launched a showplace 10,000-square-foot restaurant and capped it off with a star-studded grand opening.

Fleetwood, a longtime Maui resident, began his interest in restaurants at age ten when he played drums in his garage, charged admission and sold Cokes for a nickel.

He dreamed not only of a musical career but operating a restaurant, according to Michael Butler, Fleetwood’s on Front St.’s general manager.

The star of Fleetwood Mac could have put his dream restaurant anywhere in the world – New York, Honolulu or elsewhere, Butler said. He chose Maui because he lives here most of the year and could drop by, sit in with musicians once in a while and have lunch.

Fleetwood’s has more than 30 investors, including some in the music business.

Another motivation, Butler said, is to help Maui. Fleetwood thinks his many fans will start flocking to Lahaina to visit his new place rather than choosing other island destinations.

One top restaurateur, who is a potential competitor, encountered minutes after an exclusive Lahaina News interview, said he welcomed Fleetwood’s.

“When more people come to Maui, we always benefit,” the restaurateur said.

Housed in the former home of the short-lived Lahaina Store Grille & Oyster Bar and ill-fated Planet Hollywood, the second and third floor restaurant at 749 Front St. is topped by a huge covered deck with sweeping views of the both the West Maui Mountains and Lahaina waterfront.

A central bar is flanked by two Moroccan style-sitting areas that can be reserved by groups and a center section where local music groups will play nightly.

At 6 p.m. each night, the restaurant holds a torch ceremony and commemorates Hawaiian culture – something Fleetwood believes is important for newcomers to do.

Fleetwood, Butler said, has a lot of respect for the culture.

To commemorate his own roots, the part-Scottish Fleetwood concludes the ceremony with a sole bagpiper who marches in with full regalia playing a few tunes.

Butler said the ceremony will be held nightly and is not just a grand opening feature.

Below the top deck is what Fleetwood considers his living room. Comfortable sofas and a shelf of artifacts – including an old Edison phonograph from his home – line a wall in a bar area.

Fronting the main dining room is a huge set of Fleetwood drums that he will play from time to time. An adjoining state-of-the-art recording studio will make possible recording of live music.

One day, you might see CDs out with the title, “Live from Lahaina from Fleetwood’s on Front Street,” Butler noted.

Known as a detail person, Fleetwood has paid close attention to the menu with aspirations that one day the restaurant will be one of the finest on Maui.

In an unusual twist, it offers a $35,000 Harley Burger. You get a $15 burger, and a $34,985 Harley-Davidson also comes with it. Fleetwood’s, which is cooperating with the Harley-Davidson dealership here, has actually sold one.

The restaurant is topped by an American flag, a Hawaiian flag and special red flag put up when Fleetwood is on the island. At a recent Friday evening, during what was called a soft opening, Fleetwood toured the dining room and bar, chatting with fans as well as locals he has known for years.

Fleetwood is a regular guy, Butler noted. He knows a lot of people on Maui, and you are probably more likely to see him at a supermarket than in front of a drum set.

The concrete building housing Fleetwood’s has a checkered history. Owner Mac Lowson said it was built in 1916 during World War I to be “the center of the Germans’ Pacific empire.” The thick walls include twisted steel and are considered impregnable.

Whether the restaurant flourishes and meets its ambitious goals for years to come or fades away, the solid three-story building will probably always be there.

Fleetwood was unavailable for an interview because he was in rehearsals.

The restaurant is currently open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and until midnight Friday and Saturday.